It happens from time to time. Good luck and bad luck. NOLA handed me some bad luck.
This winter has been a rough, weather wise. I spent all but 5 or so rides on the trainer, and had minimal time to really try out my set up on the Argon 18 leading up to the race. It wasn’t the bike itself that I gave me problems, but the bottle cage I had mounted on the areobars. But, I will get to that later.
I arrived in NOLA on Friday afternoon after 10.5 hour drive from Louisville. My wife, Leslie, made the trip with me to support me the entire race weekend. We were able to spend a little bit of time at the French Quarter Festival downtown and try some great southern food. After that we made our way to the host hotel where I gave a speech at the Iron Prayer event put on by FCA Enduarnce. I spoke on how God desires to have a functional relationship by waiting on us, pursuing us, and giving us tough love. Immediately after that, it was the pro meeting, then relaxing at home getting the gear ready for race day.
Race day started with a 4:45 wake up call. We made our way to swim start and transition area. I made it over to the swim start with plenty of time. Before the race started, the wife of the athlete that was killed in an accident gave a speech. I couldn’t believe how well she was composed. I was getting emotional and I didn’t even know this man, but I felt a connection just being a triathlete. Please join the rest of us in praying for the family affected by this.
After that they announce the pro men feild one by one as we ran down the dock after our name was announced. I was really excited to see how my swim had improved after swimming with the Lakeside Seahawks this winter. Those 12-14 year old kids are crazy fast! I used a borrowed TYR sleeveless CAT 5 Hurricane (I accidently left mine at home and was able to find one to borrow the day before the race). I really liked how it felt in the water. The gun went off without a countdown. I swam hard to get in the front pack of swimmers (other than Andy Potts who got away from everyone). I found the group and found my spot in the group and settled into the pace. A few times I got lazy and started falling off the pace, but I did a few hard strokes and kicks to get back in the group. I improved my swim time by nearly 2 minutes from last year, and came out in 25 minutes, right about what I estimated I would. 7th pro out of the water… significantly better than last year.
We had a long run through transition, but the bikes were lined up right by the bike out.
I accelerated past a couple guys that came out of T1 with me and rode hard to catch a group of 2 guys in front of me. On my way to catch them, I hit a few bumps in the rode and I lost an entire bottle of Infinit. It came out so easily that I knew if I went back to pick it up, it would just fall out again. I hadn’t had time to test the bottle cage outside due to riding almost entirely on the trainer since January. I started thinking on what I should do. What is the best what to utilize one bottle cage. Hydration or nutriton. I could grab some gels to get extra calories, but washing it down with Infinit (more calories) would eventually cause me to bloat. I could use just water, but I would need to grab about 5 additional gels along the race course and use a lot of Salt Stick electrolyte pills. I didn’t know what to do, since neither seemed to be very managable. So I just kept rolling along and decided to grab bottles of water and drink as much as I could before leaving the bottle drop zone then toss it and keep sipping on what Infinit I had left. (I did this until running out of infinit and then grabbed two bottles of water. One for the functioning cage and one to get a quick sip from.)
About mile 15, Chris McDonald caught the group I was cycling with (I was leading the pack until he passed me). I knew that I needed to do what I could to stick with him. We ended up riding together for most of the rest of the ride, and dropped a few people that were lined up behind us. However, I felt the affects of the lack of nutrition and hydration. After the race was over, I figured I mised about 30-40 ounce of fluid, 300 to 350 mg of sodium, and 150-200 calories. I knew when I dropped the bottle, it would be a miracle to salvage the race, but I didn’t want to quit. I figured I would pay for it on the run… and that’s what happened. I did manage to PR in the bike by 4 to 5 minutes on a really windy bike course and poor nutrition (we had 15-20 mph winds that were headwind/crosswind except for about 8 to 10 miles). The Argon and Enve wheels handled the winds well. I loved using the Rotor Powermeter with the oblong Q-rings in a race. My tri kit from Champion System, which I wore for the first time in a race, worked really well. No discomfort or chaffing.
I exited T2 in 7th place and then passed a guy about a mile into the run. I was sitting 6th place, but I didn’t feel good. My pace started slowing quickly and I felt way off. I managed to hold on to 6th place until about the 4th mile. After that it was really discouraging to see all these guys pass me like I was standing still. I gutted it out and crossed the line 1-2 minutes off my PR with a horrible run. I know that I am capable of a run about 10 minutes faster, which would have put me in 5th or 6th place overall in this race.
The good news is that it’s not the fitness that needs some work, it’s just a swapping out a different bottle cage that will hold the bottles better. This season will be great, just a little blooper on the first race.
I am thankful that God has given me the ability to race and for the support crew here in Louisville, Maverick Multisport, and my family in MI and IN. I can’t wait to get out there and see what I can really do with proper nutrition and hydration. Make the needed changes and move on.
Next up is the Derby Marathon on Saturday (hopefully be recovered by then), then the Kalamazoo Marathon on May 4th. Then the Ohio Trip T May 14-16th… it appears that racing season is here!